The 25 Best Miniseries of All Time (To Binge-Watch in a Day)

Here are our all-time favorite television miniseries that are so good, you'll want to binge-watch them from start to finish.
The 25 Best Miniseries of All Time (To Binge-Watch in a Day)

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The line between a movie and a TV series is continuously being blurred thanks to the explosion in on-demand streaming services and the growing popularity of TV miniseries.

Movie franchises are starting to adapt the episodic formula of TV shows to tell deeper and longer stories, while TV series are starting to possess the same cinematic quality of blockbuster movies.

Where there used to be a hard line now exists the wonderful TV miniseries, with prestigious filmmakers more willing to take on these ambitious projects, and A-list movie stars more willing to jump aboard these TV miniseries projects.

And this is excellent for viewers like us! We get the best of both worlds: incredible stories with immense production quality, with the flexibility to watch episodes at our own pace. But when a TV miniseries is really good, you can't help but to binge-watch it.

Here are our picks for the best miniseries of all time that are perfect for binge-watching over a day or weekend!

25. Waco (2018)

Created by Drew Dowdle and John Erick Dowdle

Starring Michael Shannon, Taylor Kitsch, Andrea Riseborough

Crime, Drama, History

6 episodes (1 season)

7.9 on IMDb

If you're looking for an action-packed TV miniseries, you'll want to move Waco to the top of your watchlist.

This six-episode miniseries depicts the 51-day standoff between the FBI, ATF, and the Branch Davidians (a religious sect founded by David Koresh). The perspectives of both sides are explored throughout the siege, resulting in a devastating fire around the compound.

The standoffs are worth appreciating, and the cast puts in solid performances, but the sympathetic David Koresh (played by Taylor Kitsch) might put you off. Regardless, if you want escalating action with a historical context, Waco is your best choice for the weekend.

24. 11.22.63 (2016)

Created by Bridget Carpenter

Starring James Franco, Sarah Gadon, George MacKay

Drama, Mystery, Romance

8 episodes (1 season)

8.1 on IMDb

What if you had a chance to literally redefine history via time travel? That's the question that Hulu's TV miniseries 11.22.63—based on Stephen King's novel of the same name—is willing to answer.

This sci-fi mystery thriller follows an English teacher Jake Epping (played by James Franco), who's given a chance to travel back in time to three years before John F. Kennedy's assassination.

However, once there, his growing attachment to the time period threatens to compromise his mission.

While the events (and twists) of the JFK assassination are the series' highlights, Jake's personal journey is both tense and touching.

23. Little Fires Everywhere (2020)

Created by Liz Tigelaar

Starring Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Rosemarie DeWitt

Drama, Mystery, Thriller

8 episodes (1 season)

7.7 on IMDb

If you love haunting domestic dramas like Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects, then you'll definitely love Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere.

Based on the best-selling novel, the story centers on Elena Richardson (played by Reese Witherspoon)—a suburban mother, journalist, and landlord—whose unpredictable circumstances match her own unpredictability.

As you watch, you'll inevitably be compelled to take a side regarding Elena's moral decisions, and it's thrilling to watch Reese Witherspoon's excellent performance. But the one who steals the show is Kerry Washington as the artist who stands in sharp contrast to her.

22. Over the Garden Wall (2014)

Created by Katie Krentz and Patrick McHale

Starring Elijah Wood, Collin Dean, Melanie Lynskey

Animation, Adventure, Fantasy

10 episodes (1 season)

8.8 on IMDb

This is the only animated miniseries on our list, which should tell you how good it must be. Seriously, don't overlook this one!

Over the Garden Wall tells the story of two half-brothers Wirth (voiced by Elijah Wood) and Greg (voiced by Collin Dean), who pass through a mysterious forest on their way home. Along their path are various creatures and marvels for them to behold and reconsider.

Over the Garden Wall was released almost a decade ago, back when fantasy TV and animation were still being pushed and developed into powerful storytelling mediums. With mood and mystery hauling the story ahead, it makes for a tranquil but engaging watch.

21. Roots (2016)

Created by Various

Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Malachi Kirby, Forest Whitaker

Drama, War

4 episodes (1 season)

7.9 on IMDb

Alex Haley's novel Roots is one of the most important pieces of literature about the African-American slavery experience.

Back in 1977, the Roots miniseries adaptation made big waves. Now, we also have the 2016 adaptation that doesn't displace the first, but instead adds to the tapestry and once again reminds us of that long, dark chapter of American history.

The 2016 version of Roots doesn't pull its punches when it comes to the horrors and hardships faced by Kunta Kinte (played by Malachi Kirby) and the rest. Kirby brings humanity and resilience to the Gambian man who's robbed of his freedom but not his spirit.

20. Show Me a Hero (2015)

Created by David Simon and William F. Zorzi

Starring Oscar Isaac, Peter Riegert, Carla Quevedo

Drama, History

6 episodes (1 season)

8.0 on IMDb

The Wire's David Simon is all about hard-hitting dramas, and that's certainly true with Show Me a Hero.

This HBO miniseries brings to light the simple tale of former police officer Nick Wasicsko (played by Oscar Isaac), who's running for mayor of Yonkers at a time when desegregation and integration were stirring up racial tensions all over the city.

Show Me a Hero gets raw with its details of race, class, and economic status of then-Yonkers. By avoiding a heroic portrait and leaning into his barebones loyalty, Isaac's Wasicsko is an underdog to root for.

19. The Good Lord Bird (2020)

Created by Ethan Hawke

Starring Ethan Hawke, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Beau Knapp

Drama, War, Western

7 episodes (1 season)

7.6 on IMDb

The Good Lord Bird is an amazing period piece about abolitionist leader John Brown (played by Ethan Hawke) and his soldiers as they conduct raids during the period of Bleeding Kansas.

The story is seen from the perspective of enslaved boy Henry Shackleford (played by Joshua Caleb Johnson) as he joins Brown's unit.

As far as historical war epics go, this series knocks it out of the park with its depiction of John Brown's heroics, with Ethan Hawke's performance matching Brown's nobility. Add the intense battle scenes and character progression? You get a miniseries worth binging.

18. Black Bird (2022)

Created by Dennis Lehane

Starring Taron Egerton, Paul Walter Hauser, Greg Kinnear

Biography, Crime, Drama

6 episodes (1 season)

8.1 on IMDb

One of the most talked-about series of 2022, Black Bird not only adds to the repertoire of great crime dramas but surpasses many of them.

Taron Egerton plays Jimmy Keene, a drug and arms dealer who's offered a deal: to cooperate with the FBI and extract information from convicted serial killer Larry Hall (played by Paul Walter Hauser).

The interplay between Keene and Hall is the highlight of the series, with the tension between the two convicted men brimming with a uniquely intimate kind of hostility.

The deeper Keene gets with Hall and the operation, the higher the stakes become, and it makes for a great David Fincher-inspired crime saga.

17. Maniac (2018)

Created by Cary Joji Fukunaga and Patrick Somerville

Starring Emma Stone, Jonah Hill, Sonoya Mizuno

Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

10 episodes (1 season)

7.7 on IMDb

Looking for a more genre-heavy miniseries? Consider Maniac, the American remake of the Norwegian comedy drama, this time starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill.

Maniac follows two strangers assigned as test subjects for a clinical trial, only to find themselves taking psychedelic trips into their emotions. But in this case, the miniseries goes even further than just hallucinations.

It almost feels like Netflix's take on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where both characters' memories are interpreted via a psychedelic lens. With its ethereal futuristic tone, it's worth the trip!

16. Maid (2021)

Created by Molly Smith Metzler

Starring Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, Rylea Nevaeh Whittet


10 episodes (1 season)

8.4 on IMDb

Some limited series are so grounded, so realistic, so down-to-Earth that they end up pulling the rug from under you with the sheer audacity of their bleak authenticity. Such is the case with Maid.

Alex (played by Margaret Qualley) is a young mother who's trapped in an abusive relationship while juggling her job as a house cleaner and trying to get government assistance to support her daughter.

The Netflix Original miniseries speaks harsh truths of the unfair system that governs us, keeping us down and out even as we try our best to escape and make a better life for ourselves.

Maid paints a vivid picture of the hardships faced by those in poverty, who are stuck for reasons beyond themselves. Qualley's performance makes for a cathartic journey that's outstanding but tough to watch.

15. John Adams (2008)

Created by Tom Hooper

Starring Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, John Dossett

Biography, Drama, History

7 episodes (1 season)

8.5 on IMDb

Most of us only know John Adams as the second President of the United States, but his life goes beyond his role in founding the United States.

This acclaimed HBO miniseries gives a more human take on the man of John Adams (played by Paul Giamatti), his wife Abigail (played by Laura Linney), and his administration during a very contentious time in American history.

John Adams works as a direct history lesson (despite taking some creative liberties) and it provides a compelling look at several other historical figures. Paul Giamatti as John Adams and Laura Linney as Abigail Adams are the main reasons to see this.

14. The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

Created by Mike Flanagan

Starring Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas

Drama, Horror, Mystery

10 episodes (1 season)

8.6 on IMDb

For horror fans, The Haunting of Hill House is a breath of fresh air and a must-watch by horror maestro Mike Flanagan, who's created several of the most interesting pieces of modern horror.

Loosely based on Shirley Jackson's novel, The Haunting of Hill House elevates what could've been tired horror clichés by incorporating family drama and personal crises.

And that's really the lasting legacy of this miniseries: a study of the Crain family and their interpersonal dynamics as they confront the supernatural entity that's been haunting them since childhood.

13. Godless (2017)

Created by Scott Frank

Starring Jack O'Connell, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy

Action, Drama, Western

7 episodes (1 season)

8.2 on IMDb

After he embraced the Neo-Western genre with Logan, writer Scott Frank took on a more traditional and more ambitious Western project in the Netflix show Godless.

Set in 1884, this miniseries follows outlaw Roy Goode (played by Jack O'Connell) as he flees from his ruthless mentor Frank Griffin (played by Jeff Daniels) and retreats to a New Mexico town entirely populated by women.

For Western fans, expect spectacular showdowns that pay homage to The Magnificent Seven and The Searchers—showdowns that are spectacularly delivered by standout female characters. Godless is an epic Western that's absolutely worth watching.

12. The Night Of (2016)

Created by Richard Price and Steven Zaillian

Starring Riz Ahmed, John Turturro, Bill Camp

Crime, Drama, Mystery

8 episodes (1 season)

8.4 on IMDb

The Night Of is an absolute must-watch for crime noir fans. Based on a 2008 British series, this HBO miniseries centers on the mysterious case of a Pakistani-American—who's accused of murdering a female college student—and his unusual lawyer.

In every episode, you can see strong influences by Michael Mann's and David Fincher's movies. Every episode builds on the tension of the last, leading to a tense and climactic trial. With just eight episodes, The Night Of is one you'll want to binge start to finish.

11. The Pacific (2010)

Created by Various

Starring James Badge Dale, Joseph Mazzello, Jon Seda

Drama, History, War

10 episodes (1 season)

8.3 on IMDb

A companion piece to Band of Brothers, The Pacific focuses more on the Pacific War and even more specifically the 1st Marine Division.

The story is primarily spent on three officers who are each assigned to different regiments, and doing this offers a broad scope of the skirmishes and struggles that took place against the Japanese.

While comparisons to Band of Brothers will always be made between the two—with Band of Brothers widely considered to be superior—The Pacific stands out for its intimate, zoomed-in focus.

Between Robert Leckie (played by James Badge Dale), Eugene Sledge (played by Joseph Mazzello), and John Basilone (played by Jon Seda), the horrors are all the more gripping to experience.

10. Mare of Easttown (2021)

Created by Brad Ingelsby

Starring Kate Winslet, Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart

Crime, Drama, Mystery

7 episodes (1 season)

8.4 on IMDb

HBO has been making the rounds with brilliant crime dramas over the years, with The Undoing and The Staircase garnering a lot of attention. But above them all stands the great miniseries Mare of Easttown.

Starring Kate Winslet as the titular detective, the seven-episode series explores her burrowing tragedy and her struggling redemption as she attempts to solve the recent murder of a young mother.

It's haunting to witness Mare on her downward spiral as she plunges down while wrestling for peace. Backed by Winslet's heart-wrenching performance, alongside a great cast, Mare of Easttown keeps us guessing and leaves us breathless.

9. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (2015)

Created by Andrew Jarecki

Starring Gary Napoli, Michael Antonio, Eric Rizk

Documentary, Biography, Crime

6 episodes (1 season)

8.6 on IMDb

The Jinx looks at the life of Robert Durst, the once-prominent New York real estate heir who achieved notoriety in 2015 with one of the most shocking revelations in television.

This documentary miniseries started out as a profile of Robert Durst, whom filmmaker Andrew Jarecki admired. Their interactions are full of intrigue as the pressure seeps under Jarecki and his crew.

But when Durst makes an accidental revelation, unaware that his microphone was on, The Jinx becomes truly gripping.

8. Watchmen (2019)

Created by Damon Lindelof

Starring Regina King, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison

Crime, Drama, Mystery

9 episodes (1 season)

8.2 on IMDb

At the center of the Watchmen HBO miniseries is Tulsa detective Angela Abar (played by Regina King), who dons the alter ego "Sister Night" to investigate the death of her colleague, which is linked to white supremacist forces.

It expands on the same worldbuilding and continuity of the graphic novel series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, even as it carves its own identity within the franchise.

Watchmen packs an even stronger punch with its timely themes, building on top of its superhero theatrics, intriguing characters, and awesome fist-pumping moments throughout.

7. Unorthodox (2020)

Created by Anna Winger

Starring Shira Haas, Amit Rahav, Jeff Wilbusch


4 episodes (1 season)

8.0 on IMDb

Unorthodox is the story of a 19-year-old Jewish woman named Esty (played by Shira Haas), who's stuck in an arranged marriage and leads a hostile life within her ultra-Orthodox community in New York.

She denounces everything and flees to Berlin to live a more liberated life, and her husband tries to catch her.

This Netflix series is a fiery slow-burn from start to finish. You can truly feel the longing that comes from Esty's eyes as she rejects her family's traditions and strives toward her musical ambitions. This fact-based story is truly a gut punch to the heart.

6. The Queen's Gambit (2020)

Created by Scott Frank and Allan Scott

Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Chloe Pirrie, Bill Camp


7 episodes (1 season)

8.5 on IMDb

The Queen's Gambit is one of the most popular miniseries of the decade, and it's easy to see why.

Based on a 1983 novel, Scott Frank embraces the source material—a high-stakes story about chess—and produces a strong redemption arc for protagonist Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy).

Harmon is a chess prodigy from an early age, and her talents are only boosted by her addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Like many before her, she's one in a line of compelling anti-heroes, and it's Anya Taylor-Joy's performance that brings her out and makes her so memorable even years later.

5. Patrick Melrose (2018)

Created by Edward Berger

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hugo Weaving


5 episodes (1 season)

8.0 on IMDb

In Patrick Melrose, Benedict Cumberbatch plays the titular Patrick Melrose, a wealthy Englishman with a serious addiction to heroin, drugs, and alcohol that stems from his father's cruelty and his mother's neglect.

What follows is a farcical spiral of failures as he attempts to overcome his intense vices, which aren't so easy to defeat.

You can picture Melrose as a tragic figure, whose personal struggles against his inner demons are hard to watch. Yet he easily fits in with other tragic anti-heroes like Don Draper, Walter White, and Bojack Horseman. For that, you will feel invested in his arc.

4. O.J.: Made in America (2016)

Created by Ezra Edelman

Starring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mike Albanese, Muhammad Ali

Biography, Documentary, Crime

5 episodes (1 season)

8.9 on IMDb

Have you forgotten the time when O.J. Simpson was a football superstar and beloved icon? This five-part miniseries brings us back to his glory days—back before his infamous trial—and allows us to witness the rise and fall of an underdog.

Watching O.J.: Made in America makes you feel like a journalist covering for Simpson. You'll feel inspired by his humble beginnings, feel angered by his actions, and feel pity for the rest. For a saga so familiar, it still has powerful storytelling.

3. When They See Us (2019)

Created by Ava DuVernay

Starring Asante Blackk, Caleel Harris, Ethan Herisse

Biography, Crime, Drama

4 episodes (1 season)

8.9 on IMDb

When They See Us highlights the lives and tragedies of the Central Park Five, five teenagers of color who were falsely accused and prosecuted of assault charges on a female jogger in 1989. Ava DuVernay directed all four episodes.

The miniseries explores the stories of each of the five boys, but the most alarming arc goes to Korey Wise (played by Jharrel Jerome), who was unknowingly dragged into a case he was never aware of. It's harrowing to witness, which serves to highlight the issue of racial injustice in America.

2. Chernobyl (2019)

Created by Craig Mazin

Starring Jessie Buckley, Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård

Drama, History, Thriller

5 episodes (1 season)

9.4 on IMDb

One of the greatest TV series ever produced by HBO, Chernobyl portrays the events of the 1986 nuclear plant disaster, the officials trying to recover the truth, and the cleanup efforts. Years after its initial release, Chernobyl remains just as haunting.

It never pulls punches on showing the severity of the disaster's fallout. Chernobyl almost feels like a horror film, where every piece of information discovered is scary. This is best exemplified by the famous scene of workers clearing the rooftop of rubble.

1. Band of Brothers (2001)

Created by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks

Starring Scott Grimes, Damian Lewis, Ron Livingston

Drama, History, War

10 episodes (1 season)

9.4 on IMDb

The greatest miniseries of all time, Band of Brothers showcases the best of Steven Spielberg's talent and expertise as a director. What he did for film with Saving Private Ryan, he does the same for TV with Band of Brothers.

This 10-episode HBO miniseries follows the US Army's "Easy" Company on their brutal skirmishes and struggles in German-occupied France during World War II.

Beyond the impressive war scenes and outstanding ensemble, this miniseries highlights themes of heroism and brotherhood. In the end, you will have a far greater appreciation for our WW2 veterans.